Signpost for Sunday 15 May 2016, Pentecost: Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-35; Romans 8:14-17; John 14:8-17
Seven weeks after the Passover comes the Feast of Weeks, known in the New Testament as Pentecost, fifty days after the Passover. (It may seem strange to us to count seven weeks as fifty days rather than forty-nine, but, when the day was given its name, there was no concept of zero being a number, so counting days was always inclusive.)
At the time this particular day celebrated the renewal of the covenant, first with Noah and then with Moses. Perhaps it should not come as a surprise that a new covenant should be initiated on this day, following the events of the preceding Passover.
Luke, as a magnificent communicator, stirs up all sorts of hints of things that were in the past:
Here there was the coming of the Spirit as promised in the previous chapter.
Here there was a baptism with Spirit and fire, as predicted by John the Baptiser.
Here there was the sound of the wind, the breath of God, the wind from God which moved in creation over the waters.
But these things become apparent on reflection: the story is so well told that one gets wrapped up in it, even the strangely-ordered list of the nations hardly breaks up the effect.
The first public presentation of the news about Jesus was extraordinary: I have often wondered how the people from different places could hear different languages if they were all being spoken at once: perhaps there were flashes of recognition as a particular phrase was heard. However this worked, the reaction was similar to some reactions today, but better than many: being ignored is at least as bad as being accused of being drunk.
Being human, it is not possible to stay in an exalted state for a very long time, and it may be that we never see the same same sort of drama as Luke describes. It is appropriate that we are reminded by the apostle Paul that we are, through this same Spirit, given the lasting gift of being able to use an affectionate family title Abba (Dad if you like) as we come to the Father, in prayer and worship.